Monday, March 18, 2013


"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative."
     Bruce Feiler, "The Stories that Bind Us." New York Times: March 15, 2013. Fashion and Style.
    In this fascinating piece in the New York Times, author Bruce Feiler describes the Emory University study that found that a child's knowing family stories is the most important factor in developing childhood resiliency and coping skills.  A family narrative provides a child with a place in the family history and with examples of hardships and successes. Feiler identifies three types of family narratives: the ascending narrative (a family starts with nothing and prospers), the descending narrative (the family lost everything), and the oscillating  narrative (we have survived bad times and experienced good times as well). He points to the oscillating narrative as the most helpful to a child because it reveals that a family can stay together through good and bad life experiences.
     Read the article at
     I think that many of us are afraid we will bore younger generations with family stories. But I believe the Emory study shows that, even if a child seems not to be listening, the core value of a family story works its medicine on his or her development.
     So, tell those stories, even if done in short conversations. Feiler also recommends that families create a mission statement that identifies the family's core values. What an interesting way to develop a sense of belonging and sharing!